Poetry Analysis: “The Tyger” by: William Blake

“The Tyger” Me reading “The Tyger” by: William Blake.

William Blake: Author of "The Tyger"

William Blake: Author of "The Tyger"

Background Information of William Blake and “The Tyger.”


William Blake (1757-1827) was born in London, England. At a very young age Blake displayed a very high amount of creativity. Not being able to find an education passed a drawing school; Blake began an apprenticeship when he was 14 as an engraver. His life as an engraver actually played a big role in how his poetry got published. In 1789, Blake published a book called “The Song’s of Innocence.” His most famous poem in this book was titled “The Lamb.” “The Lamb” is based on a Christian view of creation and how God created the Lamb as a perfect, innocent being. Later in 1794, Blake published another book titled “Songs of Experience.” In this book is the most famous of Blake’s career, “The Tyger.” “The Tyger” is a spiritual partner to his previous poem “The Lamb.” In “The Tyger”, Blake again speaks of an idea about creation and the creation of evil. “The Tyger” is the opposite of “The Lamb”, because instead of talking about the creation of good, he speaks about the creation of evil. In the “Tyger”, Blake uses a very powerful rhyming scheme along with a lot of Allusions referring to both Christian views of God, and Greek/roman God’s and Goddesses throughout “The Tyger.” The poem itself presents a sort of strange view on one central question that he repeats twice in the poem referring to the evil of the Tyger. “Who could/dare frame thy fearful symmetry?”(Source)

“The Tyger” by: William Blake (Songs of Experience)

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art.
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

(Source)

Analysis of “The Tyger”

William Blake structured his poem with six Quatrains, or four line stanzas. In these stanzas, he uses a variety of rhyming couplets, repition, powerful imagery and alot of rhetorical questions to enhance the piece.
He begins the first quatrain with “Tyger! Tyger!burning bright.” Right away he uses repition to catch the reader’s eye. The word “Tyger” is a symbol of all creation. In his poem, “The Lamb”, he uses the Lamb as a symbol of innocent mankind, where as the “Tyger” is a much more wild, mysterious and ferocious animal capable of great good and terrifying evil. Blake then supports that idea by describing the Tyger as “Burning Bright” The burning bright meaning being so ferocious, being so capable, so intelligent, and having the power to do anything. Going along with the idea of the Tyger being a wild, mysterious creature, he uses powerful imagery with the line “In the forests of the night.” This imagery creats an awesome scene of a dark, mysterious environment in which the Tyger is lurking. This suggests that the Tyger is like a creature of the night, very dark, very mysterious, and again, capable of doing unknown goods and evils. Blake ends his first quatrain with a rhetorical question. “what immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?” The immortal hand or eye Blake uses is referring to a God. So he is saying, what God could create or “frame” somethin g that is both beautiful, symmetrical, and also so terrifying and fearful. The God who created such a creature is fearful because he made this beautiul creature of mankind to have free will. With free will means that they can choose to do right and wrong, and that in intself is terrifying.
Blake begins the second quatrain of the piece with some imagery as well as another rhetorical question. “In what distant deeps or skies burnt the fire of thing eyes?” By the terms distand deeps or skies, Blake is using an allusion to create a picture of Heaven and Hell. The line “Burnt the fire of thine eyes” is directed at God. These are God’s eyes. Blake is asking, who was the God who created the Tyger. Was he the God in heaven/”skies” or was he created by Lucifer in hell or “distant deeps”(Source). The next two lines are more rhetorical questions where he asks “on what wings dare he aspire?” and “what the hand dare sieze the fire?” Again, he is wondering what God could create such a creature like the tyger. Was he a God who is sitting on wings? Or is he a God who has to work with a blazing fire (Source). However, Blake was known to like using the Greek Gods in his works. The question “On what wings dare he aspire?” could refer to Icarus. Icarus created wings so that he could fly free of a labrynth (Source). The second rhetorical question “What the hand dare seize the fire?” could refer to the God Prometheus. Prometheus is a Gode who stole fire from Zeus and gave that fire to mankind. So Blake’s aksing who would dare seize the fire with thier hands. Well, Prometheus dared to seize the fire so he could share it with man (Source). Each question used powerful images to enhance the content of the text.
In Blake’s third stanza or quatrain, he uses yet another rhetorical question, directed to ask “Who created this creature?” He uses powerful imagery to provide a picture of a God literally molding/ creating the tyger. “And what shoulder, and what art could twist the sinews of thy heart?” In these lines, the “thy” is referring to the tyger. “Could twist the sinews of thy (Tyger’s) heart.” Blake used the word “twisted” to remind us of the free will God made man with. The “twisted” is also to remind how “twisted” or sometimes corrupt Humans can be (Source). Later in the stanza, Blake asks another question pertaining again to “Who could make a frightening creature?” Blake uses imagery to show how the heart of this Beast begins to beat and then once God had make the heart beat, he says “what dread hand? and what dread feet?” This shows how God again asks himself if he dreaded creating such a magnificent creature that is capable of both good and evil (Source).
 

 

 

The fourth stanza in Blakes’s poem begins with an awesome allusion, referring to the Greek God Haphaestus. “Hephaestus is the blacksmith God of fire and metallurgy who was plagued with a lame leg and toiled under the volcano, Mount Aetna, creating weapons,armor,and artwork for other God’s who distained him for his ugliness”(source). “What the hammer? what the chain? In what furnace was thy brain?” From the words Blake presents and image of a God like Hephaestus, in a dark, hell-like place,just hammering away to create this beast. By saying “In what furnace was thy brain?” Blake is implying the tyger to be made of hard, metalic “Stuff.” In the next line, he uses “What the anvil?” to again, paint the picture of a God like Hephaestus hammering away on an anvil to create the tyger out of metalic substances. To close the stanza, Blake uses alot of dark, ominous words. “what dreap grasp, Dare its deadly terrors clasp?” The words dread, dare, deadly, and terrors are worlds that describe something evil. Blake chooses to uses these words to paint an image of the tyger being an evil creature, which begins to lean us away from the assumption that the tyger was created by the God in heaven, and therefore capable of good as well as evil. The tyger and its deadly, terrors clasp is more imagery to remind us that the tyger is dark, mysterious, and horrifying (source).

Blake starts his fifth quatrain with powerful imagery as well as an allusion. ” When the stars threw down their spears, And water’d heaven with their tears,” the imagery in these two lines clearly forms some kind of picture. Blake however had some hidden symbolism in the words in these lines. It is an old tale that the twinkling of stars are the Angels in the heavens. Looking closely, it can be suggested that the word “Stars” means Angels. So the Angels are throwing down their spears. Why else whould they do that except for during the War of Angels? There was a time that Lucifer became enraged and rebelled against God and his Angels. Lucifer then went up into the heavens and battled with God and his Angels. When it says “Stars threw down their spears,” it is talking about when God’s Angels defeated Lucifer’s Angels by using spears (Source). The next part of these lines “And water’d heaven with their tears.” is also speaking about the Holy War of the Angels. The Angels of God are watering the heavens with their tears because they feel compassion to thier Angel brother who follow Lucifer (source). The Next two lines of the poem are again a few rhetorical questions, however this time, they begin to suggest something different. So far, most of the questions have led us to believe that the tyger is evil, so its creator would inherently be Lucifer. This time, the questions point to the conclusion that it was infact God who made the tyger (mankind). But, was God happy with the results of his creaton of mankind (the tyger)? “Did he smile his work to see?” (Line 19). This line is the support for the question, “was God happy with what he created?” Did he actually smile to see what the “Tyger has/can do with it’s free will? Line 20 reads: “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?” This is where the table turns towards God as the creator of the tyger, not Lucifer. In Blake’s other poem “The Lamb”, the lamb is a symbol of perfection and innocence. It is a creation so pure, unable of doing wrong. Being that the tyger is not perfect, and pure, it is hard to believe that the same God cerated both these creatures. However, Blake has intended the rhetorical question in line 20 to show us that they were infact made by the same creator, and that creator is the God in heaven (source).

The sixth and final quatrain of the poem is a recap of the first quatrain. He uses repition to bring back the “Tyger! Tyger! burning bright, in the forests of the night, what immoral hand or eye.” Those three lines are identical to the first three lines of hte poem. The “Tyger” links to mankind, the burning bright refers to the flourishing and furiousity of the tyger(mankind). The line “in the forest of the night” again is used as imagery to get the readure to picture a dark, mysterious environment, implying that the tyger is a creatyre of the night. Lastly, the immortal hand or eye is a symbol of a higher power. What God is the one who created the tyger(mankind), a creature that is both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. There is one difference that Blake made in his final stanza from the first one. This difference comes in the last line of the poem, line 24. In the first stanza, Blake asked “Could frame thy fearful symmetry?” Meaning, is God actually capable of creating a creature so terrifying yet beautiful. In line 24 of the poem, Blake changes his question to ask “DARE frame thy fearful symmetry?” Now, the question is not if God is powerful enough to create a creature like the tyger, but what God would even dare to create a creature so terrifying. Would he dare create the tyger(manking) with free will, knowning that free will may lead them astray from worshiping the lord. There is one central point that Blake wanted to get through to us. In his poems, “The Lamb” and “The Tyger”, it was God who created both the Tyger and the Lamb. Although they are different and the tyger is said to posess traits of evil, God knew what he was doing, and he made the tyger (mankind) to be free, so that we could live happily.

The stage of the Hero Journey that is most represented in the poem “The Tyger” is the birth. The Birth is about the becoming of existence for a hero. In the poem, the tyger is our hero, and he is being born into the world via creation of God. The birth is when a hero first begins to realize his or her true identity by tests and natural experiences. The tyger is being born in the poem, and Blake is attempting to show us what his identity is. Birth is the begining of a hero’s life, and at first, they have the choice of wether they want to be good or evil. They are capable of both at birth, just as the tyger is capable of doing good and evil.

17 Responses to “Poetry Analysis: “The Tyger” by: William Blake”
  1. Delzaan says:

    REALLY GOOD ANALYSIS OF THE TYGER! LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

  2. K Talukdar says:

    I don’t know whether this will reach to you or not, yet as a part of my acknowledgement I have written a few lines. It was a great help for me. Specially I was looking for the picture of the Tiger. The analysis has also been useful for a student. Thanks for the help.

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  3. nazish abbasi says:

    it is simply superb… i was not expecting such a wonderful,detailed and close to actual facts analysis from this site…no words to say thanks…<3 <3 <3

  4. Jane Fruchtnicht says:

    I have been very interested in this poem for the last year. I appreciate your detailed description and analysis. It enriches this poem for me. One suggestion – please edit out typos/misspellings. Thanks.

  5. jesina says:

    this analysis is the best analysis so far… everything is emphasized in details

  6. Llewellyn Kriel says:

    Wow. The work here would be manifestly better were it not for the dozens of schoolboy blunders that shout; “I just don’t care!!”

  7. perkins 4th graders says:

    The poem was good, but creepy and exciting and intelligent. We could visualize the tiger and enjoyed reading the analogy.

  8. prisca says:

    thank you so much for the information.. :)

  9. bhavna says:

    very interesting and of great help. thank you very much. God bless.

  10. ivan erick hernandez jimenez says:

    good job but if I may say a comment: I would say that is a bit pretentious at the time that you interpret and relate the poem, specifically when you mention the Greek gods, we know that it is very difficult to read the works of Blake and more the interpret, even do this kind of work makes moving curiosity.

    Finally I congratulate you for the work done on your blog.

  11. Philipp Braun says:

    Great Analysis!! Really helped me a lot, please keep on writing ;)

  12. hammad rasool says:

    what is the theme and the tone for this poem?

  13. elizabeth says:

    thanks this is soo great and helpful!! it totally helped with my literature assignment!

  14. hamid says:

    it is a fantastic analysis, but there are some spelling mistakes

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